Could signing a 28-year-old relief pitcher with a career 6.34 ERA to a minor league contract help the New York Mets’ beleaguered bullpen? At this point, it couldn't hurt.
Per the Mets' official website, the squad signed right-handed relief pitcher Craig Hansen, who last played professionally in 2010, on July 24.
A former first-round draft pick and top prospect in the Boston Red Sox organization, Hansen dominated the minor leagues early in his career, reaching the majors in his first professional season, 2005. He did not perform well at that level, however, posting ERAs of 6.00 and 6.63 in his first two years at the big league stage.
Despite his struggles—wildness has frequently done him in—Hansen has shown glimmers of promise throughout his career by posting a solid strikeout rate of nearly seven per nine innings. He has had impressive stretches of games as well. In June 2008, for example, he had a 2.92 ERA, while limited opposing hitters to a .229 batting average.
And if his name rang a bell, but you could not quite place it, he was involved in a major trade just a few years ago.
With his new team, he struggled further, going 1-4 with a 6.95 ERA in 21 games between 2008 and 2009. After being diagnosed with Parsonage-Turner syndrome, which affects the nerves and muscles in the upper back, shoulder and arm, he has pitched sparingly.
Hansen is not the Mets’ first reclamation project signed this month, either—on July 13, they inked 39-year-old pitcher C.J. Nitkowski, who last appeared in the majors in 2005, to a minor league pact as well. He has a 0.00 ERA in two games with the Mets’ Double-A team.
Considering the Mets’ horrid performance since the All-Star break, it’s not such a stretch to think a bullpen—their main weakness—featuring Hansen, and even Nitkowski, may be assembled in the near future.
It might be time to start throwing everything at the wall and seeing what sticks.